Marital Conflict Increases Back Pain

When a man or woman is having conflicts with his or her spouse, this can increase feelings of back pain.


A new study assessed the relationship quality in 71 subjects who suffered from back pain. The researchers found that subjects who reported conflict with their spouse had a much higher degree of back pain. Furthermore, this effect was even more pronounced in subjects who exhibited other symptoms of depression.



Many biopsychosocial factors other than tissue injury can affect pain sensations. Social support has been shown to greatly reduce pain sensations, and this study elucidates the negative effects of low social support. Clearly, when dealing with chronic pain, many surprising factors can be highly relevant to the progression of symptoms.



Burns, J. W., Post, K. M., Smith, D. A., Porter, L. S., Buvanendran, A., Fras, A. M., & Keefe, F. J. (2018). Spouse criticism and hostility during marital interaction: effects on pain intensity and behaviors among individuals with chronic low back pain. Pain159(1), 25-32.